Dani and I have an open, wonderfully honest relationship. Truly, sometimes she answers my questions and/or volunteers information so freely that I sit back and think, "Wow. I've done something right. This isn't normal for a teenage girl."
What I've done is foster honesty between us. She knows that above ALL ELSE IN THE WORLD, I value honesty the most. I've always been honest with her. She's known for forever that she was conceived before her Dad and I were married. It was a mistake *I* made, but I wanted her to know that even though I'd been irresponsible, her birth and me being her Mother was no accident. It wasn't part of my life plan at the time, but God blessed us and made it part of His perfect plan anyway. I never wanted her to be ashamed of it or think the subject was taboo. And so I've always just been open about it. That, really, has been the basis of our relationship - pure, open, uninhibited honesty.
When she was little, she learned early on that telling the truth was MUCH better than trying to get out of trouble with a lie. Even little lies are unacceptable. Sometimes, when she simply told the truth, she didn't even get punished for whatever crime she'd done. She learned to value honesty and fairness, and she learned to follow the rules even when no one was looking.
One day when she was five, we had a photo shoot at the Botanic Gardens. Posted all over were signs that read, "Stay off the grass." As I snapped away, I noticed a PERFECT spot for the PERFECT photo. It was on a stone path next to a gigantic oak tree.
"Stand closer, Dani," I coaxed. She inched ever so slightly closer.
"Lean against the the tree." She barely moved.
"Come on, Dani, just stand in the grass so you can be right up against the tree."
She lowered her eyes and looked at me out of the top of them.
"Mom. You know we're not supposed to stand in the grass."
That was the worst spankin' I'd ever received. And it was at the hands of my five-year old daughter.
Last night was the Homecoming Dance. I dropped Dani and Brian off at 8:00. Another Mom was scheduled to pick them up at midnight and drop them off at IHOP for a post-dance dinner with a group of friends. I was supposed to pick them up there at 1:00.
Somewhere during the evening, Bobbie (my sister) and I hatched a wonderfully fun plan. We'd get to IHOP early and take photos! We made sure we were seated so that we'd be able to see them when they arrived. Darren warned me that Dani would be mortified. I was adamant that she would NOT be. She's a cool kid. She'd think it was a riot if her Mom and Aunt showed up at IHOP. We just have that kind of relationship. I was sure of it.
While I drank my decaf coffee, I started getting nervous, and completely doubted myself. WOULD she be mad? Would I embarrass her? I asked for menus so that we could hide behind them when Dani came in the door.
And hide behind them we did. But Dani saw us anyway, and waved. (Turns out, she and her friends were seated in the booth directly behind me. I couldn't have hidden from her if I'd wanted to!)
"What are you doing here???" she asked. "Are you HIDING from me??"
"Oh GOSH, Dani," I stammered. "We thought you were going to Denny's! I can't believe you're here at IHOP!"
Her friends were all saying, "Yah, right. Uh-huh."
Dani thought it was hilarious. I snapped a photo and then Bobbie and I left.
This morning, as I was telling the story to friends at church, Darren overheard and said, "Stace? Did you lie to our daughter?" I sheepishly admitted that I had. The guilt had already been festering, but now it was about to burst. I went to Dani and confessed.
"WHAT?" she exclaimed. "You lied to me?? You DID know we were at IHOP?"
"Yes, Dani. I'm sorry. I lied. We knew."
"Mom? You LIED to me? All my friends asked me, 'Did your Mom really think you'd be at Denny's?'... and I said, 'Oh yah. My Mom would never lie to me.'"
I just about broke down in tears when she told me that this morning. Don't punish me anymore. That's about all I can take right there.
Later, at home, Dani was cleaning the kitchen when I walked in and said, "Dani, I'm so sorry. I've always taught you to be completely honest with me, and now I'm the one who was dishonest with you. Forgive me. I made a stupid decision."
"Mom. If you had a good reason, I might understand it. But there was NO reason to lie. You just LIED. For no reason! I don't get it. I don't get why you had to lie."
"I was afraid I'd embarrass you in front of your friends. I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have ever lied about it. I made a bad choice, and there's no excuse for it."
"Seriously? You thought I'd be embarrassed? You could've just said, "Hey! I came to take some pictures!"... and I'd have been like, "Hey! Cool! Okay, guys... my Mom's taking pictures. Say cheese!"
I groveled a little more, and she said, "You're teaching me how to act when I DO tell a lie. You're teaching me to admit it and not make excuses for it. You're still teaching me honesty. Now. Finish cleaning this kitchen and it'll all be forgiven."
"You're PUNISHING ME?" I laughed.
"Yep," she answered as she walked out of the room.
Darren smiled at me from across the hall and said, "I think you're getting off easy."
Yah. Now if my guilt-ridden heart would only let me off the hook.
I do value honesty above all else. ALL else.
So does Dani.
Weird thing, having the roles reversed on you like that. Happened when she was five, and now when she's fifteen. I'm afraid for what dumb mistake I'm gonna get spanked for when she's 25!
I'm the luckiest Mom ever. I have a daughter who trusts me with her life, her secrets, her passions, her fears, her questions. And today, I learned that she also trusts me with her expectations of me, her honest opinion of me, and her disapproval of my actions. That's a lot. There are STILL very few people in my life whom I trust with those types of things. I thank God that Dani trusts me enough to be honest with me. I still don't think that's normal for a teenage girl.